Marussia’s promising qualifying fades in the race

Leave a comment

After pulling a rabbit out of the hat to get both of its cars into Q2 on Saturday, Marussia’s promise slowly faded away during the British Grand Prix on Sunday as Jules Bianchi came home as the lead car in 14th place.

Bianchi had started in 12th, and made a good getaway from the grid to hold position after the first lap. When the race was red flagged, Max Chilton made the mistake of pitting for repairs, earning himself a drive through penalty in the process.

Bianchi worked hard to try and keep some of the drivers behind, but gradually fell further back before eventually finishing in 14th.

“From 10th place at the restart I had a very enjoyable opening stint,” the Frenchman said. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold off the faster cars behind me but it was a good test of our pace as to how long I could keep them behind for and this was a fun part of the race for me.

“After that I just had to push as hard as I could to stay with the pack in case any opportunity arose. What we did see today is that all we need is just a few more tenths a lap to allow us to keep pace with the Lotus and Sauber cars, so we have to focus now on finding that extra time.”

Chilton finished as the last running driver on track down in 16th place, and lamented the first lap incident he was caught up in that forced him to pit under the red flag.

“After yesterday’s qualifying performance we were hopeful that we could have a good race today and we certainly didn’t anticipate the course of events that we did encounter,” he said. “That was a scary moment when I was hit by the flying tire. I was very lucky in one respect but massively unlucky given the damage to my car.

“I was happy to overtake Kobayashi so that I could then work away at closing the gap to him to unlap myself. I’m pleased we got both cars to the finish at our home race. We were hoping for more but with the circumstances we had it’s a good result.”

Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”